Hon. Stephanie Mitchell
291st Judicial District
A native of Kansas City, Kansas, Judge Stephanie Mitchell earned her Juris Doctorate from the University Of Kansas School Of Law and a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After being admitted to the State Bar of Texas in November of 2006, she practiced civil litigation and criminal defense before joining the Navarro County District Attorney’s Office. In 2008 she began prosecuting at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office where she was recognized as the 2010 “Rookie of the Year” and the 2012 “Prosecutor of the Year”. Quickly rising through the ranks, she became the Chief Felony Prosecutor of the Gang Unit and during this time she announced her candidacy for judge. On January 1, 2015, Judge Mitchell was sworn in as the Presiding Judge of the 291st Judicial District Court, making her the youngest sitting District Court Judge in Dallas County. She also serves as the Presiding Judge of the Second Chance Community Improvement Program, SCCIP. This is the first and only felony community court in Texas. SCCIP focuses on transforming the lives of participants with pending felony and/or misdemeanor cases, by providing exposure, support and empowerment. She is also one of four Dallas County Judges that created the nationally recognized, Pipeline to Possibilities Program, P2P. P2P has partnered with Dallas Independent School District to educate young adults about the criminal justice system and the importance of making good decisions. Judge Mitchell lends her time outside of the office to a number of charitable causes and community service driven organizations. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Concord Church.
Lynn Pride Richardson
Chief Public Defender
Lynn Pride Richardson is the Chief Public Defender for Dallas County. She is in charge of the largest and second oldest Public Defender’s Office in the State of Texas. Lynn is a third generation graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and the University of Florida College of Law. She has been practicing criminal law for 32 years. In Texas, Lynn has worked as an Assistant Public Defender for the last 23 years. She was appointed Chief Public Defender by the Dallas County Commissioners in 2008 and manages a budget of over $14 million for an office with 94 attorneys who practice in the criminal, family, appellate, juvenile, mental health and probate courts. Lynn is actively involved in several Dallas County initiatives including the Dallas County Mental Health Steering Committee, Behavioral Health Leadership Team, the Jail Population Committee and the Dallas County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB).
Lynn and the staff of the Public Defender’s Office have been instrumental in helping to plan, initiate and operate several Dallas County Diversion and Specialty Court/Re-entry Programs including Mental Health Jail Diversion, ATLAS, the PRIDE and STAR Courts, South Dallas Drug Court, Outpatient Competency Restoration Court, STAC, DDC, 4C, AIM, SET and the SCCIP Court program. The offenders accepted into these programs are connected with critical services, support and housing, and upon completion of their criminal cases in pre-adjudication programs their criminal cases are dismissed and their records expunged. Her client centered approach to criminal defense also inspired her to create a special conditional dismissal docket for mentally ill offenders and to pursue numerous reformative justice initiatives. She is a proud member of the board of directors of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). One of the highlights of Lynn’s career was when she was invited to represent NADCP in Vienna, Austria at the United Nations to advocate on behalf of drug courts. She met with representatives from various countries and drug court advocates from across the globe. As a member of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association she actively participates in programs that have a significant and positive impact on the criminal justice system.
Public Defender’s Office
Paul Blocker has been a licensed attorney for nearly 20 years. He started his career with the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office in February 2002, first working in misdemeanor family violence court before being promoted to the felony division. During his tenure with the Public Defender’s Office he has tried misdemeanor and felony cases and participated in numerous hearings. Mr. Blocker was promoted to First Assistant in January 2009, serving under Chief Public Defender Lynn Richardson. As the First Assistant Public Defender, Mr. Blocker oversees the day to day operations fo the largest public defender’s office in the state of Texas. His duties include but are not limited to, hiring of full time attorney and staff, coordinating law student internships, resource acquisition and allocation, attorney and staff training. Paul earned his undergraduate degree from UT Arlington, and his Juris Doctorate from the Thurgood Marhsall School of Law in Houston. He is a former Adjunct Professor for criminal law and criminal procedure at El Centro College in Dallas, as well as a frequent panelist at the Dedman School of Law at SMU. Mr. Blocker has received training from the Center for Court Innovation and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals on the application of the 10 Key Components of An Effective Drug Court and actively works in the Second Chance Community Improvement Program Court.
Deputy Chief of the Reformative Justice Unit
Dallas County District Attorney’s Office
Stephanie V. Gonzales is Deputy Chief of the Reformative Justice Unit at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. This unit is comprised of 5 attorneys and one licensed counselor who work within the court system with a focus on treatment and rehabilitation to address the root causes of criminal activity, rather than the traditional means of prosecution. She has served as the liaison to the Hispanic community for this administration. Ms. Gonzales received her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University, as well as her Juris Doctor. Upon graduation, Ms. Gonzales practiced personal injury law for the Law Office of John Read, II. She then joined the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in 2004. Civically, Ms. Gonzales is currently Chair of the Hispanic Leadership Roundtable, which serves to facilitate intimate discussions between Hispanic leaders and local political leaders and public and private sector entities. The goal of these discussions is to hold these political leaders and entities accountable concerning issues such as MWBE hiring and advancement, cultural competency, education, among many others; with resulting concrete action items from each session. She also serves as Treasurer of New Life Opportunities, which is a nonprofit corporation that serves to educate the promoters and customers of prostitution in order to assist the victims of the sex trade and decrease prostitution. She is a member of Hispanic 100, the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, and many other organizations.
Rev. Gerald Britt
Vice President of External Affairs
The Rev. Gerald Britt Rev. Gerald Britt came to CitySquare in September 2004. He currently serves as Vice President of External Affairs. Since coming to CitySquare, Rev. Britt has worked to develop living wage job strategies, which focus on training for jobs in construction, environmental remediation, culinary arts, and technology based soft skills training. In the area of Public Policy, Rev. Britt leads in constructing CitySquare’s advocacy agenda based on the organizations values and the implications learned from its service programs. Britt has led CitySquare in forming coalitions and initiatives resulting in increased compensation for the wrongfully convicted, public awareness campaigns concerning the potential pitfalls of for-profit colleges, sensible immigration reform and led to local ordinances and state legislation to regulate the predatory loan industry. Prior to 2004, he served as pastor of the New Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Dallas, for 22 years. Rev. Britt led New Mount Moriah in a commitment to organizational growth and community engagement in the areas of education, housing, and neighborhood redevelopment and health care. Under Rev. Britt’s leadership, New Mount Moriah became a force for change in the ideal neighborhood and throughout the city, resulting in the first new housing in the neighborhood in more than 50 years, local campus school reform, job training, and political engagement. He continues to be on the forefront of redevelopment efforts in South Dallas, leading organizations that resulted in the development of South Dallas Action Plan, a comprehensive strategic plan for renewal of the South Dallas economic infrastructure, created by a coalition of neighborhood, non-profit, church and business leaders from the South Dallas community. Rev. Britt is a highly sought after preacher and keynote speaker, panelist for various seminars, workshops and institutes for churches, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, government agencies, concerned with neighborhood redevelopment, leadership and faith-based economic development throughout the country. He has been a television and radio guest on several local and state television and radio stations. He has also been called on to testify before the Congressional Black Caucus in areas of employment training and economic development. Rev. Britt is a founding member of the African-American Pastors Coalition, Baptist Ministers Conference and a Former Vice-President, Board of Directors, Greater Dallas Community of Churches (Chairperson of its Crossroads Program); He is a former two-term member of City of Dallas Urban Rehabilitation and Standards Board (1985-1989) as well as the General Secretary, Oak Cliff Baptist Ministers Union. Other positions have included: Chairman, Oak Cliff Baptist Ministers’ Union City Wide Revival Institute; True Fellowship District Association’s General Secretary and President, Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress; Former Secretary, Ministers Conference National Missionary Baptist Convention. Rev. Britt has received many awards and honors.
City Square and SCCIP
Molita Strong is a case manager at CitySquare and for SCCIP (Second Chance Community Improvement Program) in Dallas TX. Molita is a Michigander and has worked for CitySquare a non-profit for the last five years. Molita’s previous experience includes working with victims of domestic violence and women struggling with substance abuse. Molita is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with the plan of enrolling in the Master level social work program after graduation. Molita is a skilled listener and very passionate about social justice. Molita facilitates life skill groups, supports and guides participants through various walks of life and she believes that everyone deserves a second chance. Molita has developed knowledge of, and skills in assisting participants to identify needs and provide complete referral assessments, utilization of agency and community resources. She actively participates in committees, both inside & outside the organization.
Yulise Reaves Waters
Assistant City Attorney and Community Courts Prosecutor, City of Dallas
Yulise Reaves Waters, Esq., is an Assistant City Attorney and Community Courts Prosecutor for the City of Dallas. She is also the co-founder and lead planner of the Second Chance Community Improvement Program Court (S.C.C.I.P. – pronounced “skip”), the first-ever felony community court in Dallas County history and a recipient of the 2018 National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Equity and Inclusion Award for “excellence and leadership in demonstrating and promoting cultural proficiency in treatment court services.” Waters earned her B.A. in English (magna cum laude) and in Spanish (magna cum laude) and her B.B.A. in Organizational Behavior and Business Policy (magna cum laude) as a Presidential Scholar at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. She also earned her J.D. from the Dedman School of Law at SMU. A member of the Inaugural Emerging Leader Board at Dedman Law, which recognizes graduates over the last twenty years who have “a strong record of leadership in the legal profession and a proven commitment to public service,” she holds memberships in the State Bar of Texas (and is an appointed member of the Collaborative Law Section Council), the Texas Association of Drug Court Professionals, the Dallas Bar Association, and the J. L. Turner Legal Association (the Black Bar of Dallas). A Dallas Public Voices Fellow, Waters’ commentary on race, justice, and policing has been featured on nationally-syndicated radio programs, and her published columns, in major U.S. city newspapers. She has been named to the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” to Who’s Who in Black Dallas, and to the City of Dallas’ Wall of Honor for meritorious service to the citizens of Dallas. She is also a recipient of the History Maker Award of the Black Alumni of SMU, the organization’s highest honor. She is married to the Reverend Dr. Michael W. Waters, founder and Senior Pastor of Joy Tabernacle A.M.E. Church in Dallas, Texas. They are the proud parents of three children.